To Become, or Not to Become, a Social Media Guru
I am tired of seeing people spouting on about how you can sell your art by doing this marketing plan or doing that social media strategy, or making videos of yourself creating your art and posting them online, etc. etc. – in other words, by getting really really good with your online art presence.
Generally speaking, this kind of approach to selling your art, in whatever medium you work in, may give you some results in the long run. But it’s misleading because it assumes you want to become part of the Artist rat race. Most likely you will end up spending countless hours on the computer trying to master some kind of marketing technique. And is this really what you want to be doing as an Artist? Do you want to spend hours and hours everyday in agony (you might be different, but most Artists I know think it’s agony) doing something you loathe like doing serious online or other types of self-marketing?
(And by Artist, here, I mean ALL creatively driven people, no matter your medium.)
The Belligerent and Inappropriate Thing about Selling Your Art…
First of all, as someone who has worked with many creatives as an art coach, and because being belligerent and inappropriate is part of that job, let me ask this somewhat belligerent and inappropriate question: Is your work yet good enough to sell? What I’m saying is, are you completely confident that your work as it stands can fetch a price that is worth all of the blood, sweat and tears of starting the endless and daunting task of online marketing – that task that people say is the only way to sell your art in the 21st century of modernity?
Secondly, if your work is good enough to sell, and you have a couple of years supply of sellable art, are you seriously ready and willing to start a new career in marketing? Because in most cases I’ve seen, that is what you will end up doing. Once you have taken this blue pill, so to speak, and you start down this seemingly comfortable yet secretly rocky path, chances are you will look back one day and go, ‘why didn’t I just keep creating art instead of worrying about selling? I would have become a much better Artist and probably would be selling a lot more art.’
If you did go down this road in order to sell your art, and you are now feeling the pain of it, take a look at all those hours you spent doing something you didn’t like to try to get something you thought you wanted. Then you might ask yourself this question: is selling my art something that is really important to me? Is it more important than becoming a better Artist? Is it more important than spending my limited time in this life doing what I love?
Paying the Bills
‘Yes,’ you might say, ‘but I have to pay the bills, don’t I?’ Well yes, you probably do have to pay the bills. So then you might ask yourself, ‘does spending hours everyday doing something egregious like self-art-marketing really going to make enough money to pay my bills?’ This is the hundred thousand dollar question, and it is what this blog post is mainly about.
Let’s take an example of an historically famous Artist – before the days of online/internet anything, but still very relevant today. Take Brooklyn born Jean Michel Basquiat, who started out as an iconoclastic graffiti artist in NYC’s Lower East Side in the late 1970s. Then almost overnight he became one of America’s most renowned contemporary painters. Did he do that by going against what he loved to do, hunkering down and putting in the marketing hours? No. He did that by going out into the world and doing what he loved, and by never letting his vision subside.
The story has it that meeting Andy Warhol was his ticket to becoming such a sought after Artist. Would he have garnered the admiration and support of Warhol (who, rumor has it, was also his art coach) had he done what gallery experts might have recommended he do, and climb that Art success ladder rung by rung? Likely not. Instead, Basquiat took risks and continued to explore his artistic pursuits regardless of his money situation.
“He slept on park benches in Tompkins Square Park, and was arrested and returned to the care of his father within a week. Basquiat dropped out of Edward R. Murrow High School in the 10th grade at the age of 17 and then attended City-As-School, an alternative high school in Manhattan, home to many artistic students who failed at conventional schooling. His father banished him from the household for dropping out of high school and Basquiat stayed with friends in Brooklyn. He supported himself by selling T-shirts and homemade post cards.”
Honestly, I don’t really know exactly how Basquiat rose to fame because I wasn’t there. I am merely illustrating how being yourself and doing what you love to do will give you much better chances at getting what you want in life. It will enable you to become the Artist you want to become, simply because you have to BE that Artist before you can be recognized as that Artist. And BEing that Artist means doing what you love to do, creating what you love to create, and never letting up, never compromising, even if you have to sleep on your friend’s couch for awhile. By being so, you will inevitably attract the people and circumstances that will sell your art for you.
Do Your Real Work and Never Look Back
As you can see, Basquiat, as a struggling and somewhat homeless teenager, did find ways to support himself. And according to this quote it was not by getting on office job, or doing things that went against his nature. My point here is, if doing online self-marketing is something you, as an Artist, like to do, then go for it. All the power to you and I hope it works for you. If not, you can always take a minute out of your day to make a post of your work on Facebook or Instagram – and then go back to doing your real work. I’m pretty certain that one day you will thank yourself for it.
For information about what it’s like to work with an Art Coach to help you take your creative work to the next level, go HERE.